Australia pays damages in a dispute over submarines

DThe new government in Canberra has promised France hundreds of millions in compensation for a failed submarine deal. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced in a press conference on Saturday that Australia would pay 555 million euros to the French naval group. This will “put the line” on the scandal that has led to severe annoyance between the French and Australian governments.

In an ad hoc interview at the time, French President Emmanuel Macron even accused Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison of lying because Paris had not previously been informed that the deal might fail. It was not until the announcement of a new security pact with the US and Great Britain that Morrison announced the end of an agreement with France worth approximately EUR 60 billion. The so-called AUKUS pact gives Australia the opportunity to obtain nuclear powered submarines of American and British construction.

Prime Minister: “Extraordinary waste”

Albanese described the amount of compensation for France as “fair and reasonable”. The previous government’s project, which the Albanians described as “failed”, cost Australians a total of nearly € 2.3 billion. While this is less than feared, “it still manifests an extraordinary waste of a government that was good at announcing but not very good at executing,” said Albanese. Now there is scope for further development of the relationship with France “key partner”.

The decision was preceded by a friendly exchange with Macron, Albanese said. He announced the upcoming meeting with the president. At a security conference in Singapore, French Defense Minister Sébastian Lecornu drew attention to what links France with Australia. In addition, he and the Australian Defense Minister are new to their posts. This offers a chance for a fresh start.

Also in Singapore, Australia’s new defense minister, Richard Marles, said the deal would enable a “fresh start” in relations with France. Relations with the US and the UK remained central to Australia. However, the AUKUS pact does not mean that other partnerships will lose value as a result. The Australian rejected the Chinese delegate’s question as to whether the AUKUS pact was a “mini-NATO” in Asia. The pact is seen as a response to China’s expansion in the Indo-Pacific region.

Relations between Australia and China have been strained for some time. The new government in Canberra is also looking to improve in this regard, but wants to continue to openly address the differences. “This government will show respect, also towards the countries with which we have complex relations. This also applies to China, said Marles. Canberra wants a fruitful relationship with a country that continues to be Australia’s largest trading partner.

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